The Long Long Afternoon by Inga Vesper
In my opinion...
This atmospheric and claustrophobic novel is set in 1950s small town America, a place full of racism and misogynists. It is narrated by three very different characters; Ruby, ‘The Help’; Joyce, ‘The Wife’ and Mick ‘The Detective’ all of whom have a back story in addition to the main plot.
It is an intriguing and unusual book, sometimes making me think of Stepford Wives, at others the novel ‘The Help.’ It has many toe-curling moments and uncomfortable descriptions, but it also has some great humour. Mick has some great lines, and who can resist the comment: ‘ A breeze enters the room, shy like a prom girl…’
Overall, it is Ruby who is the star, invisible to the neighbours except when they need her but the most clear sighted, realistic and intelligent. Her ‘working’ relationship with Mick shows that she doesn’t really need him to solve the mystery, and even he, who respects and wants to help her, isn’t exempt from letting her down with some of the things he says.
I found this novel fascinating and read it quickly, it has many twists towards the end, and although I guessed what had happened, it didn’t spoil my enjoyment.
Want to know more?
Yesterday, I kissed my husband for the last time . . .
It's the summer of 1959, and the well-trimmed lawns of Sunnylakes, California, wilt under the sun. At some point during the long, long afternoon, Joyce Haney, wife, mother, vanishes from her home, leaving behind two terrified children and a bloodstain on the kitchen floor.
While the Haney's neighbours get busy organising search parties, it is Ruby Wright, the family's 'help', who may hold the key to this unsettling mystery. Ruby knows more about the secrets behind Sunnylakes' starched curtains than anyone, and it isn't long before the detective in charge of the case wants her help. But what might it cost her to get involved? In these long hot summer afternoons, simmering with lies, mistrust and prejudice, it could only take one spark for this whole 'perfect' world to set alight . . .
A beguiling, deeply atmospheric debut novel from the cracked heart of the American Dream, The Long, Long Afternoon is at once a page-turning mystery and an intoxicating vision of the ways in which women everywhere are diminished, silenced and ultimately under-estimated.
A claustrophobic and secretive four glasses
Thank you Bonnier Books UK & NetGalley for my ARC